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Simplilearn taps into the urge to learn and rise

Source : BUSINESS_STANDARD
Last Updated: Mon, Dec 10, 2012 03:52 hrs

pem&ldquoI cleared my PMP Examination and its a wonderful experience to achieve this landmark Special thanks to Simplilearn for the excellent classroom training the online course access and Webinars&rdquoem&mdash Shrinivas Chatla Service Product Manager Nokia Siemens NetworksppShrinivas Chatla is one among many who has tried the digital medium of learning for professional certification offered by Bangalore-based start-up Simplilearn It was started in 2009 as a blog by Krishna Kumar an engineer to share his experiences on management Within a year it metamorphosed into a commercial business venture Before starting the company through his blog Kumar has personally trained and facilitated around 3000 people across 100 countries within six months of starting bloggingppIt is Kumar&rsquos second venture The first one TechUnified was established with four friends it was bought in 2007 by a listed company After the successful exit from his first venture Kumar was looking for a new oneppFor any professional looking to enhance skills and career growth it has become common to acquire certification in the respective area In a country like India where hundreds of training centres exist it is tough to find the right one To address the needs of many preparing for examination Simplilearn has selected an innovative way It is a an SaaS-based online learning platform into certification preparation for professionalspp&ldquoThe first venture was a core technology firm and we were working in sectors like wireless and business solutions We sold it for around Rs 49 crore and I was exploring various ideas to start a new venture As a blogger I started writing blogs on various self-help issues Within a short period my blog became a hit and then I decided to pursue it as a business venture&rdquo said KumarppstrongThe modelstrongbr Using technology and the internet Simplilearn has transformed the small regional classroom-based training to a global delivery model which allows learners to reduce the cost per trainee significantly compared to the traditional certification trainingppAccording to various estimates the education market size ranges from 200 million to 5 billion The edu-tech segment is sometimes put at least at 1 billion and is expected grow at a 15-20 per cent compounded annual rate over the next five yearsppUnlike other large entities in the training business that focus on corporate segments this one has taken a new path Simplilearn has positioned its training offerings around certifications and concentrates on individual needs &ldquoWith the potential of the internet and other digital mediums we realised that reaching professionals across the globe was not a limitation it gives an easy route to penetrate more markets&rdquo said KumarppSimplilearn follows a global delivery model allowing it to keep net cost per trainee significantly lower than some leading rivals Through the online e-learning module webinars and independent trainers it provides flexibility for a user Of its total revenue around 70 per cent comes from markets abroad and it is expected to continue in the same wayppA person can join by signing into the company website and opting for any of the 50 courses offered &ldquoOur training is not centred around &lsquostar-trainers&rsquo which enables it to offer a seamless quality of instruction through independent trainers in combination with online and interactive courseware offered through the e-Learning module and live webinars Our blended training model makes it easy for professionals to prepare for project management certification examination&rdquo says KumarppSimplilearn started operations in 2010 as a company It offers courses in the online mode by classroom training and webinars It also offers expert faculty services through chat support 247 The courses designed for online delivery include audio-visual elements for improving one&rsquos skills It offers around 50 online courses for executives in streams such as project management IT service management and financial management quality management and technology certificationppIt is a step-by-step blended learning model a mix of certified instructor-led classroom training and learning management systems training with simulation tests audio-video content and video tutorials to maximise the success rates in examination Simplilearn offers online courses starting from Rs 4000 for a classroom session the fee starts at Rs 15000 The company has accreditation from many global certification providers for the content and courses offered So far Simplilearn has trained around 35000 professionals across 135-odd countriespp&ldquoWhen I was doing my blog I realised one thing through the feedback of 3000 people that working professionals need flexibility In each module of the courses we are offering flexibility to students they can study whenever and wherever they want to learn The 247 support through experts is an add-on for each enrolment&rdquo Kumar said &ldquoWe brought this differentiation into our offering which none of the players in the field offer&rdquoppThe road aheadbr Started as a blog by a person it employs a team of 250 &mdash trainers content creators and support staff &mdash and the revenue is growing at 400 per cent yearly By the end of 2013 it has planned to offer around 100 courses in various skill segments On an average every day the website gets around 4000 people and it trains 2500 every month It began in a small office and plans to shift the operations to a bigger oneppThe interesting part of its growth journey is that the company spends little on direct advertisement It says the volume of people joining is mainly driven through referrals wherein a person who clears the course recommends Simplilearn to others &ldquoThe majority of our users are through referrals and that is a testimony for us&rdquo said KumarppThere is also the affiliate programme &mdash anybody can promote Simplilearn through their website portals or blogs If a person joins a programme through an affiliate the company pays them 20 per cent of the course fee as a rewardppThe challengesbr Despite the growth Simplilearn faces a big challenge With strong growth and the tremendous increase in users registering with the company it is facing difficulty in scaling the operations Being a content provider getting good quality content is another major challenge The company is looking at a global sourcing model to address this concern and is trying to source from anywhere in the world by partnering with experts across the globepp&ldquoFor a business like ours it is very difficult to scale up quickly due to the availability of skill to develop content and solutions for courses We were able to provide 50 courses and as we plan to offer 50 new ones it is very difficult to find trainers Content is a challenge as it requires great domain expertise and precision&rdquo said Kumar Despite the hurdles the team intends to spread the reach and also penetrate deeper into existing geographyppThe company faces tough competition from Edusys another Bangalore-based company This is an early starter founded in 2004 with offices in the US UK Australia Singapore and India Edusys offers courses to large companies Simplilearn focuses on individualspp&ldquoCorporate employee training is an easy way to increase the scale of our business But that is not our model in an individual training model we get more time to concentrate on each client We dont conduct test for students after the course they need to register for examination and write online test in a Prometric centre&rdquo said Kumar Prometric is a test development provider which conducts test for many professional organisationppIn August the company raised an undisclosed amount from IndoUS Venture Partners a venture capital firm &ldquoEducation is an important sector for growth in India and across the globe Many professionals are looking for options to enhance their skills Simplilearn offers its client to do a certification course in a much easier way&rdquo said Rajesh Raju of IndoUS Venture PartnersppThe company has four members on its board &mdash Kumar and Raju Sumit Jain who is vice-president at IndoUS Venture and Shashwat Kumar partner at Khetal Advisors for driving the company&rsquos future With lots of plans Kumar has an advice to budding youngsters with a dream &ldquoDon&rsquot be scared in what you do have full strength faith and confidence in yourself&rdquo he sayspp&ldquoGenerally people say the family&rsquos support is must But when I started my first venture I didn&rsquot inform my parents that I resigned from a well-paying job We struggled here and we made our dream come true&rdquo he says with satisfactionhr ppstrongfont color000099EXPERT TAKEfontstrongppSimplilearn is in a good niche area one attracting a lot of attention internationally The convenience and affordability of online learning is unbeatable as the success of companies in this space has shown especially in higher education in the US It addresses many of the challenges facing working professionals from pursuing additional education and skills training to further their career in an increasingly competitive and ever-changing marketppThe major strength of Simplilearn is that professional certification like Project Management Professional Cisco Certified Network Associate It is a niche market with no distinct leader in the online space The affiliation of Simplilearn with all leading certification providers creates credibility and trust among its customers With venture capital-funding it will be able to focus on execution and scaling as against many other start-ups that don&rsquot have the moneyppHowever the focus is primarily on the IT sector and this is a weakness For IT is a sector frequently affected by &lsquotrends&rsquo and hence subject to the ebbs and flows of the industry It has opportunity to diversify into new verticals &mdash like retail pharma hospitality and other areas particularly where unique skills plus compliance is required Aligning with existing IT training networks to offer blended learning models is another opportunity Another threat in the segment is that there is no barrier to entry with several players in the online trainingLearning Management System LMS spaceppemstrongKrishnan Ganeshstrong br founder and CEO TutorVistacom one of the first e-learning firm in the country now part of global education solution provider Pearsonemp


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